Wednesday, 23 January 2008

The Thrill of the Hunt

Wow, what a day. Where to begin? Well, it was gloriously sunny today, thus the only rightful place for me to be was enjoying the great outdoors.
I decided to take advantage of the beautiful light and have a tinker with the SLR camera, to see if I could figure out all the fancy settings, and see what I could do with it.
I wondered around for a couple of hours, snapping here and there, it was proving to be a very warm and peaceful morning. Then just as I was settling down with Simon in front of the lake, for a cup of tea and a chat about the photos I had been taking, we heard the dogs barking from quite a distance.

My immediate concern was that they had crossed over into the farmers fields and were harassing his cows, an offense which is likely to get them shot, and rightly so.
This seemed unlikely as they are generally very respectful of their boundaries, and as we got closer to the noise we realised that it wasn't cows that were on the receiving end of their wrath, but a Ragondin.
You may remember me writing about these horrid creatures a short while ago, they are huge water living rat like creatures, the French hate them, and with good reason, and now our dogs had one cornered in a very long dark tunnel at the foot of the gloopy glop.

Ragondin's are not aggressive animals, but will attack if cornered, they have HUGE teeth, dogs that hunt these animals wear 4" wide nylon collars to protect their throats, as having their jugular torn open by a frightened Ragondin is how many dogs meet their fate, needless to say, upon discovering that my silly hounds had actually followed one of these creatures into a tunnel, I was somewhat distraught.
Nala, our older dog, is more than capable of holding her own, this kind of hunt is in her blood, and we could hear her barking and growling, and presumably attacking at frequent intervals, but there wasn't a sound from our young pup Pip, and when Nala came out of the tunnel, covered in blood, and Pip didn't follow, we really started to panic.

By now I was on my hands and knees in 5" of stagnant muddy lake water, screaming into the mouth of the tunnel for Pip to come out. Nala went back in, and continued to bait the Ragondin, but still not even a squeak from Pip, if he was injured, we couldn't get to him, we couldn't even dig down because he was in a concrete tunnel which was buried 12 feet under ground.
I told Simon to stay there and ran like the clappers to the farmers house.
I arrived on his doorstep, covered from head to toe in stinking orange slime and mud, panting like a woman in the throes of a very painful labour, just as the Farmer and his workers were sitting down for lunch.
After explaining the problem in extremely poor french - something along the lines of "my dogs, in tunnel, ragondin attack, puppy is dead! (insert uncontrolable sobs here) please bring your dogs!" They politely informed me that their dog's were in fact not there, but kindly downed knives and forks, and followed me, guns in hand, back to the tunnel.

By this point, I really was convinced my puppy was dead. To make matters worse, as I arrived back I could hear the children's cries as the bastard goats ransacked the house in our absence, and saw Simon charging around the lake towards them, whilst the farmers and me ran towards the tunnel.
Nala was still going crazy inside the tunnel, Simon returned with a torch, and now I was howling like a banshee.
A little torch light revealed that the tunnel curved off at an angle, preventing us from seeing the action. All the while I was howling Pip's name.

I may not have mentioned before, that we named Pip before discovering what this word meant in French. Not long ago, some French friends of hours, informed us, with great amusement I should add, that Pip, is actually a French slang word for sex. I am sure you can imagine the look of surprise on the Farmer's faces, as I was lying down in the mud screaming SEX at the top of my voice into the tunnel, what a time to feel frisky!

Nala came out when called, and promptly went back in, then Simon saw Pip in the tunnel, covered head to toe in mud and dragging himself down the tunnel on his knees. Hope was restored, he might be injured but he was alive! After a few minutes he was dragged to safety, he was so covered in mud that we couldn't see if he was hurt or not, I held him against me and ran back to the house with him as fast as my very out of shape legs could carry me.
I put him straight under the shower, and was relieved to find there wasn't a scratch on his body, he was just very shaken up and cold.

Meanwhile, now that the pup was safe, Simon was trying to call Nala out of the tunnel, whilst the farmers, rather enjoying the action, egged her on to kill the Ragondin by screaming ATTACK! ATTACK! into the tunnel at regular intervals, Nala, always being one to follow orders, politely obliged and came out a few moments later, bit the farmer, presumably as a warning not to bellow at her like that again, then trotted back to the house.

The goats had a whale of a time during all this commotion, having burst into the house and attacked the fruit bowl, sending all manner of objects crashing to the floor whilst the children looked on helplessly.
So now we were faced with our muddy selves, two very muddy hounds, a floor littered with two dozen half eaten apples and pears and broken glass everywhere. Needless to say, my peaceful morning was somewhat shattered. The clock struck two, it was time for the children to go to their party, oh joy.

Peace was soon restored, we were all treated to a warm shower, dogs included, muddied clothes thrown in the washing machine and the children ferried off to their party, albeit a little late. Nala had a few minor cuts to her face and ears, one particularly nasty bite that punctured her cheek, but is otherwise safe and sound and looking rather smug that she at least won the battle.

I popped round to the farmers later in the evening to give them a bottle of scotch, by way of an apology for interrupting their lunch, they were already quite merry from their evening aperatif, and said how impressed they were with our Ragondin Killing hound, eager to learn where they could acquire one of these fearless little dogs, they also commented on the pup's rather charming name.
After parting with the scotch and receiving a handful of chocolates for the children in return, I made my way back home and promptly collapsed on the sofa.
Forgive me for not doing my Blog Love post today, I simply haven't got the energy.

I will leave you with some of the photos I took, there are more in my Flickr for anyone who might be interested to see just how crap my photography skills are :)

The lake

Trying to achieve "depth of field"....
I wonder who lives here?


  1. Thank you for the many, many mental images your post evoked....I laughed so hard I cried!
    Much relieved to hear that everyone is ok :-)

  2. Tallulah, of course I feel for you. All this must have been very traumatic for you while it was happening. But, my God, I nearly fell off the chair reading your post - you are a master storyteller. :)

  3. FABULOUS story!! Oh I'm so glad they're both OK and all is well again. Had to giggle at the pip revelation though, TOO funny!

  4. Glad that the dogs were not hurt but goodness you have made me laugh!!

  5. Wow, that story was by far the most entertaining moment of my day (I work in an office 9 to 5...boring)! I'm happy that the dogs are fine.

  6. Mandie sent me here - I must obey. It perked up my day - really. I have just returned from a very very wet (read flooded out) camping trip accompanied by vomiting daughters, bike riding accident prone son, and chain smoking husband.

  7. That is hilarious!!!
    Glad the dogs and kids are ok.